The average fashion shoppers is buying from just three online stores, with many caring more about personalisation and relevance than content, according to new research.
The poll, commissioned by Apptus and carried out by YouGov. questioned 1676 people who buy fashion items online, found that:
- 62 per cent have a core group of favourite online retail stores that they tend to buy fashion items from – a figure that rises to 68 per cent for women.
- Younger shoppers are more likely to stick to a narrow selection of sites – 78 per cent of 18-24 year olds, and 70 per cent of 25-34s
- Just three sites make it into picky shoppers’ core selection of fashion sites – 63 per cent of those favouring a few sites have three or fewer in their core group
- Consumers who play favourites, typically only stray from their core sites around once a quarter – 46 per cent do so only once every two to six months.
“This is not good news for fashion retailers seeking to offset sluggish in-store sales with big growth online,” said Andrew Fowler, UK country manager at Apptus. “It seems consumers, rather than welcoming a wealth of choice, would rather narrow down their options to a few favourites, and then stick with them. That means winning new, loyal customers online – not just those seeking a one-off bargain – is going to be very tough.”
Quick buck or long term growth?
The findings also suggest that fashion retailers seeking to grow online must move away from pure price competition and instead implement longer term strategies based on building loyalty – by delivering relevant and tailored experiences. When asked how fashion sites could break into their select favourites, consumers said:
- Offer value for money – 66 per cent
- Make it easy to find products they are looking for – 48 per cent
- Have a website that is tailored to their tastes – 22 per cent
- Offer relevant recommendations – 12 per cent
- By contrast, just 4 per cent pointed to providing ‘lifestyle content’ as a means of grabbing their attention and building loyalty.
Indeed, comparing sites within consumers’ groups of favourites with those outside it made the importance of relevance all the more clear:
- 76 per cent say their core favourites are at least fairly relevant – compared with 45 per cent for other fashion sites
- Sites outside consumers’ core group are more than three and half times less likely to be very relevant (7 per cent versus 26 per cent)
- What’s more they are more than twice as likely to display products that are not relevant (43 per cent compared with 18 per cent for favourite sites).
Fowler concluded: “Value for money should not be confused with price-cutting, which is not a sustainable way to build a customer base, or customer loyalty. Rather, it’s clear from these results that the challenge is to attract and retain customers who value a relevant and tailored experience.
“But delivering that kind of custom experience for each visitor is going to require a new approach to online merchandising – it simply cannot be done manually, which is why forward thinking brands like very.co.uk are already adopting artificial intelligence driven approaches.”